There has been a lot of "buzz" around the YMCA's new brand strategy after its unveiling at the YMCA General Assembly earlier this month. Blog posts, twitter feeds and Linked In groups have been full of comments on what people thought about the change, and whether or not they thought is was a good idea. I sat in the convention center and listened to Neil Nicoll, CEO of YMCA of the USA, talk about the reasons behind the change and what it meant moving forward - and I was disappointed and excited at the same time.
Why was I disappointed? Because research shows that, even through the many years of the YMCA providing programs and services to the community, that most considered the Y a place to go for a swim and a workout. Rarely did people realize the impact of the Y on their communities - the children that learned to swim, or attended camp, or had a safe place to "hang out," even if their families couldn't afford it. The parents who could breathe a sigh of relief knowing that there was an organization that cared about their health enough to allow a family come and exercise for free, even when they couldn't afford it. An organization that provided support groups for people that needed a place to go where someone cared. People know about the programs and services at the Y - why don't they know about their charitable mission and desire to give back and support our neighbors?
Then I became excited - excited to see that, by revitalizing their brand, they have an opportunity to reach people in a new way. The mission and the focus of the YMCA has not changed - the YMCA is still a cause-driven organization that focuses on three key areas:
- Youth Development
- Healthy Living
- Social Responsibility
Yes, the YMCA logo has changed - but the heart behind the movement has not.